Celiac - @amberannehart

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"For most of my life I can remember being sick; nothing crazy or scary, but chronic stomach aches and other stomach problems. As a kid I was always aware of and watching for symptoms of Crohn’s disease because my mom and many other family members have the disease. I never thought my problems could be anything else. In January 2016 I was in the emergency room 6 different times with the worst abdominal pain of my life. Doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me; all my lab work was normal, ultrasounds and xrays were normal, at this point doctors were guessing what was causing my symptoms but had no concrete diagnosis. Finally one doctor decided to send me to a gastroenterologist, she said there was something going on and an emergency room wasn’t equipped to diagnose me properly. Spring of 2017 I finally got to see my new Gastroenterologist; as soon as I described by symptoms she had a name for what was going on - Celiac Disease. A hereditary autoimmune disease where your body sees gluten (a protein found in grains like wheat and barley) as an “invader” and attacks, but this attack causes damage to the lining of your small intestines which leads to many other issues with nutrient absorption. When I get ‘glutened’ I’m sick for weeks! The first few days I’m stuck in bed with the worst cramps and stomach pain Ive ever felt, then I get full body muscle aches and neurological side effects like headaches, brain fog and slurred speech. The symptoms of gluten exposure finally start to subside at week 3. Celiac Disease can only be fully diagnosed by an Endoscope of your small intestine and duodenum to retrieve biopsies of the lining to see the damage under a microscope. Living with celiac disease is hard, people don’t fully understand what truly being gluten free means. My AWARE necklace gives me an opportunity to advocate for myself and the Gluten Free community." @amberannehart


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